It’s been quite an eventful day here in Beijing, where HP held its Touch The Future Now regional event. They launched several products, including the HP Mini 110 netbook, the HP Pavillion MS200 all-in-one Desktop PC, an upgraded HP DV2 notebooks, and some new HP ProBooks.
But that is not the most important part of this trip for me, since Tech65 is not exactly a news site. What I gained most from this event so far is a better understanding as to what makes HP tick, and what their philosophy is when it comes to deciding what kind of product to design and create.
They really rely heavily on feedback from consumers, and many important decisions have been made based on this feedback by the design folk at HP. As geeks, we might not understand why HP does certain things, in particular when they made design decisions where we go “Wouldn’t it be better if they did this? Not that I would ever buy it even if they did, but wouldn’t that make more sense?”.
For example, one common question we at Tech65 always likes to ask is “why don’t they put a trackpoint on a netbook so that they can reduce the size of the notebook?”. It seems like an obvious thing to do, but according to HP, the only people who love trackpoints are the people who began using computers with them. In an IT environment, the split between trackpoints and touch pads are 50 50, but in the consumer market, the trackpoint preference percentage is so small, it doesn’t make any sense to put them in consumer products.
Another interesting point made was regarding colour options. After some research on colours and choices offered, HP discovered that most people prefer neutral colours, such as black, white and gray. Providing options beyond that, the people who would consider buying it were so small that once again, it would not make business sense. They will only make products of a different colour if it had a timeless value, as a special edition model, so much so that it is not for the colour that you purchase the computer, but the value-add that receive from such a purchase. The Vivienne Tam edition of the HP Mini is such an example.
I’ve always liked the machines HP built, and I’m starting to understand, after today, why that is so.
The two photos above are of their new Thin-Client machine. This was a gem that HP apparently hid from me for the past few years, because it is a really cool machine and concept, but I never knew it existed until today!
HP sells thin-clients. Light-weight, low power-consuming, durable and super low cost machines (that setup you see is only US$375, including the monitor, keyboard and mouse!) for corporations and small-medium enterprises that can live off a cloud or low-requirement software. These machines contain embedded versions of Windows XP that allow users to store data only on thumb drives (it’s even designed to be able to “permanently” fix a thumb drive inside the chassis) that “heals” itself each time it boots, so that the data isn’t in the machine itself but on removable storage. This allows super easy maintenance (HP does one-to-one exchange), and no risk of leaking important data should the machine break down or get stolen (in the case of its mobile version, which is essentially the same thin-client hardware built into a notebook). It is the thin-client of choice for Singapore’s National Libraries!
I’ll be uploading videos of some cool gear launched today over the next few days, due to the lack of hardware and software at hand now, coupled with the slower internet connection here.
And I’ll certainly be talking more about the event on the next episode of 65bits. See you back in Singapore!
Thanks to HP and Waggener Edstrom for sending me to Beijing for this event!